Cast & Crew
Bubbly Marcy Lawrence leaves her Indiana hometown to fulfill her life-long dream of being a stewardess. Her friendly enthusiasm lands her the job, and she is soon sent to the American Airlines training school, where she rooms with Kathy Hunter, Jan Baker and Alice Reymend, and learns about service and safety. In Cleveland, on the way to her first flight assignment, Marcy's taxi gets a flat tire and she accepts a lift from Mike Jamison, unaware that he is an American Airlines pilot. Mike, who has taken exception to a crack Marcy made about pilots being chauffeurs, is annoyed to find her on his flight, especially after she sheepishly confesses that she forgot to bring the food onboard. Because they have to go back to Cleveland for the food carts, Marcy almost loses her job, but Mike talks her supervisor into giving her another chance, and the two become close. Soon Marcy's friendly rapport with the passengers earns her a transfer to Los Angeles. On her first flight to Los Angeles, she meets bookish passenger Michael Lawrence, whom she thinks is a VIP. They befriend a little girl who misses her dog, and Marcy goes against the rules to let the dog into the cabin. When the dog startles a passenger, who then lodges a complaint, Marcy is suspended for a week. In Los Angeles, Marcy reunites with Jan, Kathy and Alice and suggests that they pool resources to beat the apartment shortage and rent a house together. At lunch, she sees Mike L. tending bar and learns that he is actually a graduate research assistant working his way toward a science degree. While Marcy and Jan are out looking for a place, their car battery dies and Marcy asks Mike Tracy, who she thinks is a gardener, to give them a push. A short time later, she sees him again in the Chicago airport and learns that he is head of an advertising agency. He asks her to join him for dinner with his top account, Mr. Bellamy of the Gardenia Soap Company. Marcy tries to offer ideas for an ad campaign, but Mike, who is more interested in romance, suggests that she write Bellamy a letter. Back in Los Angeles, Marcy masterminds the move to the new house and soon is surrounded by all three Mikes, who have come to help. The Mikes, who are jealous and suspicious of one another, do their best to vie for Marcy's attention, but after she is suddenly called to the airport to take a flight to Dallas, Mike J. and Mike T. leave. Mike L. stays to finish the job, but when Marcy returns too early, Mike L. assumes that she has been using them. He soon discovers that fog has closed the airport, though, and invites her to come to see his lab at the university. She encourages him and says that she has always liked the kind of life he envisions. The next morning, Mike T. calls her to his office to say that Mr. Bellamy loved the suggestion she sent to him to have airline stewardesses endorse his soap. He wants to have different stewardess endorsements every month, beginning with Marcy. A few days later, Marcy is on a flight piloted by Mike J. that is forced to land just outside Los Angeles. They spend the night in a deserted hotel, where Marcy cooks dinner and empathizes with Mike J.'s love of flying and travel. Back in Los Angeles the next night, Mike T. tells Marcy how much he likes the excitement of having his ideas come to life in advertising, and Marcy tells him how appealing that kind of life sounds. Some time later, the four roommates throw a party and all three Mikes are invited. During the party, Marcy gets a phone call from MacWade Parker, the man who photographed her for the ad campaign, and tells Mike L. and Mike J. that she has to rush off for an urgent photo shoot. When Mike T. shows up at the party and learns of Mac's call, he tells the other two Mikes what a wolf Mac is, and the three set out for his Sunset Strip apartment. There Marcy is just beginning to realize that Mac's call was a ruse, when each of the Mikes comes in and slugs Mac, after which all four men get into a brawl. The incident causes such a disturbance that it hits the papers the next day, resulting in suspensions for Marcy and Mike J., loss of the Gardenia soap account for Mike T. and loss of a proposed teaching position for Mike L. Marcy determines to do something to help and goes to each one of their superiors, in turn, and talks them into reinstating their respective Mikes. Marcy also gets her job back, and as she is about to board her next flight, all three Mikes arrive on the tarmac. First Mike J. proposes, then Mike T. Marcy is confused until Mike L. proposes and is the only one to say "I love you." Marcy accepts his proposal and drags him onto the plane with her. Although this is against the rules, the other two Mikes agree that rules aren't meant for Marcy.
Ethel "pug" Wells
Mary Ann Hokanson
K. Elmo Lowe
Bonnie Kay Eddy
Mary Jo Ellis
Ruth Brooks Flippen
A. Arnold Gillespie
Paul C. Vogel
Ethel "pug" Wells
Ethel "pug" Wells
Edwin B. Willis
Three Guys Named Mike
The film is a lighthearted and lightweight story of a flight attendant - or, as they were called in those days, "airline hostess," or "stewardess" - learning the ropes in the air and choosing among the eponymous Three Guys Named Mike. According to the credits, the screenplay was "based on the story by Ruth Brooks Flippen, from suggestions made by Ethel 'Pug' Smith." According to contemporary publicity, Smith was a "hostess" for American Airlines (she also has a bit part in the film). As the New York Times critic Bosley Crowther noted, "for services rendered in the advertising line, that company should award her a gold star (its advertising is all over the film), but if she's still hostessing, it should keep an eye on her. We suspect she spends too much time reading those leather-bound slick magazines rather than attending to the business of serving her real-life passengers." That was a comment on the glamorized version the flight attendant's life presented in the film.
Wyman's star stature meant she got one of MGM's top leading men and two of its up-and-coming actors to play the Three Guys Named Mike. Van Johnson is an aspiring scientist who works as a bartender; Howard Keel is a pilot; and Barry Sullivan is an advertising executive. Johnson had become the studio's favorite boy-next-door during World War II, and was a very popular star by 1951. After only one bit part, Keel had become a star the previous year when he played Frank Butler in the film version of Irving Berlin's musical, Annie Get Your Gun (1950). He had followed that with another musical, Pagan Love Song (1950). The part of Mike the pilot in Three Guys Named Mike was Keel's first non-singing co-starring role, and he was so appealing that many wondered why he didn't get the girl (answer: because Van Johnson was a bigger star). Sullivan had recently moved to MGM after playing supporting roles at Paramount throughout the 1940's. While he would continue to play second leads and supporting parts at MGM, his most memorable role is probably the b-movie director in The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).
Highbrow critics like the Times' Crowther may have sneered at Three Guys Named Mike, but more plebeian ones liked it fine. Variety called it a "pleasant-witted comedy," adding that "direction by Charles Walters deserves a nod for keeping the humor moving at a fast pace." The pace at the box office, unfortunately, was more sluggish. But Wyman would rebound quickly with a much bigger hit, Here Comes the Groom (1951), as would Keel with Show Boat (1951). And Three Guys Named Mike remains a quaintly entertaining time capsule of an era when "stewardesses" became "kiwis" (i.e., non-flying birds) when they got married.
Additional Trivia: The plot involves the romantic lives of pilots and flight attendants. Airplanes can be very expensive props, however, so the producers made a deal with American Airlines to use their planes at no charge. American Airlines also provided advertising to support the release of the film. Not only were American planes used, but some of the early scenes show the type of training that stewardesses received at the American Airlines school.
Director: Charles Walters
Producer: Armand Deutsch
Screenplay: Sidney Sheldon, based on the story by Ruth Brooks Flippen, from suggestions made by Ethel "Pug" Smith
Cinematography: Paul Vogel
Editor: Irvine Warburton
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, William Ferrari
Music: Bronislau Kaper
Cast: Jane Wyman (Marcy Lewis), Van Johnson (Michael Lawrence), Howard Keel (Mike Jamison), Barry Sullivan (Mike Tracy), Phyllis Kirk (Kathy Hunter), Anne Sargent (Jan Baker), Jeff Donnell (Alice Raymond), Barbara Billingsley (Ann White).
BW-91m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
Three Guys Named Mike
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th
PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)
War Wagon (1967)
"MGM Parade Show #14"
(Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955)
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004):
Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85.
He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager.
After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom.
After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films.
Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical.
By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show.
Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Important Milestones on Howard Keel:
Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate)
Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe
Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival
Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California
Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma"
Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma"
Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice"
Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun"
Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable
First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat"
First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search"
Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"
Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet"
Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear"
Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk"
Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers"
Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate)
Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson
Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks"
Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific"
Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell
Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow
Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So"
Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s
Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Ethel "Pug" Wells, who made a very brief appearance in the film, was an actual American Airlines stewardess. According to M-G-M press releases, Wells, who was originally from Clarkson, MI, made an eighty-city tour to publicize the picture. According to reviews and M-G-M publicity, some of the incidents in the film were based on her experiences. A Los Angeles Times article on February 14, 1951 related that on one of her flights to Los Angeles, Wells had so intrigued director William Wellman with stories of her experiences that by the end of the flight Wellman determined to make a movie about her. No source mentions any specific involvement of Wellman in Three Guys Named Mike, however.
An M-G-M press release from May 1950 stated that June Allyson was initially set to star in the picture. Allyson became pregnant, however, and was unable to appear in the film. A May 2, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Robert Walker had been cast opposite Allyson and Van Johnson. Several of the film's early scenes show the type of training that stewardesses receive at the American Airlines school. According to a February 12, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, producer Armand Deutsch planned a sequel to the film, but it was never made.